Once upon a time there was a battle in the shump arena between two of the greatest juggernauts the world would ever see, R-Type and Gradius. Fans of R-Type, myself included, seemed to enjoy the way that the game was refined through repeated releases, cleaning it up through minor variations. Gradius, on the other hand, seemed happy to have all kinds of off the wall spin-offs in almost any attempt to see what would stick if thrown hard enough. Interestingly enough the only one of the two that is still a running series is the later after all of these years, and Gradius V—one of the better released—finds its way into the PS2 classics collection.
This installment was always one of the more curious of the series as Treasure (the people behind Ikaruga) made this game and not an internal Konami internal Studio. While most of the aforementioned studios games have a certain feel to them—hectic, unrelenting, almost requiring more memorization than skill—it was wonderful to see that this title, while there is a far mix of the two ideals, the formula stayed the course of the origin instead of trying to reinvent everything from the ground up.
The real question isn’t if the game is fun, or its heritage, but how well it has aged in the decade since it was released—nothing through some lens that shades everything in the colors of wondrous nostalgia, but if it really holds up as a sold and well-crafted experience. Happily, for everyone involved, Gradius V exactly that, something fun and ultra-challenging, begging the player to keep coming back. Considering that it has been released at a bargain price of not having to sell your literal arm, it is worth a look.